A meat cutting plant in Bradford has been ordered to close by the local council’s environmental health team over fears that it is breaching food hygiene regulations.
The West Yorkshire Lamb, Beef and Poultry plant was recently raided by officers from Bradford City Council, with a quantity of chicken, which can cause serious cases of food poisoning if not stored and prepared safely, being seized.
The council has stated that the items seized had not been produced in “hygienic premises”. These items have now been destroyed after the council obtained a court order to do so, and the plant has also been ordered to close until legal requirements are met.
It is not yet clear which part of the plant’s operations, be it equipment, safety systems or levels of food hygiene training for staff members, is to blame for the hygiene breaches, and the firm which owns the plant has not commented. However, Bradford City Council’s Andrew Thornton has said:
“Bradford Council’s Environmental Health officers are working hard to ensure that the safety of the public is not put at risk.
“Businesses which buy wholesale meat must have the confidence that the premises where that meat is prepared is hygienic, meets all the standards required and is properly registered.
According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the number of pubs, restaurants and other food businesses which have breached food hygiene regulations has risen this year.
In total, 84 premises in Ireland have been served with closure orders by the authorities for food hygiene breaches. These have included everything from rodent infestations and filthy kitchens to a total lack of food safety management systems or food hygiene training for workers. Accumulated congealed grease and food debris have been discovered in restaurant kitchens, along with warm fridges and food products being stored next to rodent droppings.
The very high level of closure orders this year is believed to be the very highest on record, but shutting down and prosecuting businesses which breach food hygiene laws and put public health at risk is the only way the authorities can deal with such situations.
The good news is that closure orders often prompt restaurant owners to make the required improvements to standards, including sending staff on food safety training courses, so that they operate safely in future. These businesses are often permitted to reopen, provided that they are regularly inspected by environmental health officers.
An engineering company in Jarrow has received a health and safety fine of £8,000 after it was found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations which led to worker getting injured.
Back in July 2012, 19-year-old worker Jack Ward dislocated his knuckle and broke his index finger after attempting to polish a manual lathe component. It is believed that either Mr Ward’s gloves or emery cloth became entangled in the rotating parts of the lathe, pulling his hand into the machinery and causing injuries which required multiple operations to repair the damage.
The company he worked for, Premier Precision Engineering Ltd, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found serious safety failings believed to have led to the incident. The company was accused of failing to provide a safe system of work, failing to adequately assess the risks associated to this particular task and of failing to provide workers with the relevant health and safety training.
Premier Precision Engineering Ltd was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £3,875 in court costs after pleading guilty to the charges made against it. HSE inspector Fiona McGarry said after the hearing:
“Too many workers are injured getting tangled on manual lathes. Many of these incidents involve the use of emery cloth and employers must assess the need to use it on components on manual lathes and avoid it where possible.”
According to the first aid charity, St John Ambulance, many parents in Hull lack even basic first aid skills, which means that they may be unable to help their children in a medical emergency.
The charity recently released figures showing that less than half of the parents in the region have the skills needed to save their child’s life, despite the fact that 29 per cent said that their child had experienced an incident requiring first aid during the summer holidays.
Just 70 per cent know basic first aid, but most have not taken a first aid training course. In an even more shocking statistic, around 22 per cent of Hull residents admitted that they didn’t think first aid training was important.
St John Ambulance has also released a new advert designed to encourage people to get basic first aid training.
The emotive advert, which is to be run on ITV, shows a boy injuring himself and falling unconscious when climbing a tree. His father, who does not know how to help his son, is shown screaming for help. At the end of the advert, viewers are urged to learn the skills they would need to help save the boy’s life.
In a recent letter to the Herald Scotland online publication, members of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at the University of Stirling have expressed their concern over the state of health and safety in UK workplaces.
Professor Andrew Watterson and seven of his academic colleagues expressed particular worries over the withdrawal by the government of routine inspections to check that relevant health and safety training, safe practises and the safeguarding of employees is taking place in many workplaces, which they believe undermines the enforcement of health and safety laws.
The government is said to be doing this in order to ease the burden of what it describes as “excessive” health and safety rules which businesses must adhere to, as well as making an effort to change this country’s “damaging compensation culture”.
However, the letter states that:
“The Government will best protect people in workplaces by effective regulation and enforcement yet the decline in funding for regulators is happening at a time when the UK is still faced with enormous burdens of work-related ill health as well as major injuries due to failures in workplace safety measures.”
The Red Cross has issued a call for all motorists to take basic first aid training, and to carry special equipment with them in their cars so that they can help people who have been involved in road accidents.
The charity pointed out that the first people on the scene following crashes and collisions are usually other motorists, and that with the right first aid training, these bystanders could be doing a lot to save lives. As well as responding to these situations more calmly, motorists can use their new first aid skills and knowledge to give medical attention to injured people until the emergency services arrive.
The Red Cross is also calling for all motorists to carry a road hazard sign and a high visibility jacket in their cars at all times, so as to make crash scenes much safer for everyone involved.
The charity has now asked the government in the UK, as well as governments in other countries, to make basic first aid training a compulsory part of the process to get a driving license along with the practical and theoretical parts of the driving test.
A fire at a psychiatric hospital for severely ill patients in the Novgorod region of Russia has killed 37 people, and officials are now claiming that the hospital had serious safety failings which may have led to the blaze.
The fire broke out at the hospital, which housed around 60 patients, earlier this month. It started in the male ward and spread quickly throughout the hospital, which was of single storey, timber construction. A total of 37 people have been killed, including a nurse who attempted to guide patients to safety. At this stage, a patient smoking in bed is believed to be the cause of the blaze.
It has also come to light that officials had ordered the hospital to be closed and its patients relocated due to the unsafe nature of the buildings construction. Some fire safety measures, including fire safety training seemed to be in place, as the fire alarms sounded when the blaze started and personnel were able to help some patients to safety, but improvements could have been made.
A criminal investigation into the hospital for “causing death by negligence” is now being carried out.
Most food poisoning cases are caused by the growth of harmful bacteria on food products that we eat.
Controlling the growth of bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella is an essential part of food hygiene in kitchens and in businesses which prepare, serve or sell food products to the public. Without the proper measures and the right food hygiene training in place, food can be contaminated with bacteria and if consumed, these products can cause serious illness and possibly even death.
How bacteria spread
To prevent bacteria contaminating food in your kitchen, you must first understand how bacteria grow and spread. They need certain conditions in which to multiply, and these include warmth, moisture, food and time. With all of these conditions exactly right, bacteria can multiply approximately every 20 minutes. Before long, there could be millions and possibly even billions of potentially harmful bacteria in your kitchen, contaminating your food products.
Most food poisoning cases occur from harmful bacteria in the foods we eat. To understand how to control bacteria we must first understand what bacteria require for growth or to multiply.
See part 2 of this guide to find out about methods of controlling and killing bacteria, as well as preventing contamination in the first place.
As we learnt in part 1 of this guide, food poisoning is often caused by contamination by harmful bacteria, which can multiply and spread in certain conditions. Now, let’s look at how bacteria can be controlled and killed, and how to prevent contamination in the first place.
Controlling and killing bacteria through temperature
Bacteria are not killed when they are frozen – they are simply kept in a state of suspended animation. When chilled, bacteria will multiply far less slowly. However, the way to kill bacteria is to ensure that food containing it is heated to a temperature of 75°C all the way through. Reheating food more than once can be very dangerous, as it stops and starts the multiplication process and can also make bacteria resistant to heat.
The best way to prevent the risk of food poisoning is to prevent contamination in the first place. Food hygiene training teaches people who regularly handle food how to prevent contamination through methods such as:
• Washing hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw food
• Storing and cooking all food products at the recommended temperature
• Storing raw and cooked food products well away from each other
• Using thermometers to check the temperature of hot, cooked food
• Preparing raw and cooked food products well away from each other, using separate utensils, chopping boards and equipment, and cleaning everything thoroughly between tasks
An MP in Essex who is campaigning for first aid training to be a part of the school curriculum has had a positive response for his efforts from the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said that his idea has “a lot of merit”.
Bob Russell, an MP for Colchester, has been campaigning on the issue for a while now and has raised the proposal on many occasions. He even put forward a bill under the last government, claiming that it would help to create around a million new first aiders within a generation of school pupils, but this was unsuccessful.
When putting his ideas to Mr Hunt as part of a debate following the government announcement of allocation of funding for NHS England this winter, the health secretary said in response:
“We do need more young people to know the basics of first aid, and that can be extremely important—even life-saving.”
However, Mr Hunt also said that the government needs to prioritise the NHS, ensuring that accident and emergency departments can be there when needed and that they operate in an efficient way in the short and the long-term.